The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday warned broadcast stations against announcing election results during the Edo State governorship election billed to hold on Saturday.
The commission also drew the attention of broadcasters to the essential provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act regarding the coverage of elections and announcement of election results.
A statement signed by the director-general of NBC, Prof Idachaba Armstrong, also warned that election results can only be announced by authorised electoral officers and not by broadcast stations.
The statement noted: “We draw attention specifically to Section 5.3.3 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which stipulates that: The Broadcaster shall (J): Ensure that the broadcast of a partisan political campaign, jingle, announcement, and any other form of partisan party identification or symbol ends not later than twenty-four hours before polling day.
“(K) Not use any vote obtained at a polling station or from an exit poll, to project or speculate on the chances of a candidate. (I) Relay election results or declaration of the winner only as announced by the authorised electoral officer for the election. (This is also as contained in the Electoral Act of the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria)”.
NBC noted that it had been working towards a free and fair governorship election in Edo State along with other stakeholders.
It further enjoined broadcasters to continue to perform their duties professionally in order to bring about a successful democratic process.
IGP, INEC Read Riot Act To Politicians
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu Abubakar has warned party candidates, members and youths against testing the will of the force during the Edo governorship poll.
Abubakar who read the riot act ahead of the election told political actors to desist from acts capable of jeopardising the success of the election.
The IGP spoke in Benin City, the Edo State capital, during a stakeholders meeting ahead of the governorship election in the state billed for this Saturday.
The meeting which was attended by chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, comes ahead of the signing of a peace accord between the two leading candidates in the election.
Governor Godwin Obaseki is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, while Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting yesterday, the IGP who vowed that security operatives will apply stiffer measures against troublemakers, however assured that the police will display best professional practice while collaborating with other security agencies towards ensuring violent-free, orderly and credible poll.
Abubakar added that the force is conscious of pockets of violence which characterised the Edo political landscape during campaigns.
He announced the deployment of 31,000 policemen for effective protection of personnel, assets of INEC, electorate and residents of Edo people during and immediately after the poll.
The police boss emphasised that the force shall remain impartial, firm and professional in exercise of their statutory duties as provided for in the Electoral Act and other enabling laws.
He pointed out that action plans have been mapped out to deal with the situation at identified flashpoints.
“All the three senatorial districts, 192 wards, 18 LGAs and 2, 623 polling units across the state have appropriately been mapped out for adequate deployment of policemen for guaranteed security”, IGP Adamu stated.
He noted that the massive deployment of personnel is not only to checkmate violent political actors but to serve as a strong warning that government is poised to bring such characters to justice should they embark on unwanted unpatriotic intent.
“For the political actors and electorate that are law abiding, they are assured of optimal security as they exercise their electoral rights. However, for the deviants who want to deploy violence and other illegal means to advance their political interests they should
be prepared for consequences of their actions as they will be decisively dealt with irrespective of their status or political affiliations,” Adamu declared.
On his part, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu assured that the commission will ensure that the votes of electorates count during the election.
He stressed that the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election.
He said, “Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next governor of Edo state is entirely in the hands of the voters.”
He added: “We have delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election. Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to all polling units on Election Day. The Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the election holding this weekend.”
H e stated that INEC will deploy the same platforms for all subsequent elections, including the forthcoming bye-elections in 15 constituencies across 11 States of the Federation scheduled for October 31, 2020.
He continued: “We are working to ensure that in future elections, even the accreditation of polling agents nominated by political parties will also be done online.
“The commission has dynamically expanded the result viewing portal to accommodate almost two million viewers at the same time without clogging. To view the uploaded results, please visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account.
“To underscore our commitment to a credible and transparent electoral process in Nigeria, the Commission is determined to deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It is for this reason that the Commission recently built portals for the nomination of candidates by political parties as well as the accreditation of election observers and the media. We have used the portals seamlessly in preparing for the Edo Governorship election. The same applies to the Ondo governorship election”.
In addition, the INEC chairman said the commission was deploying magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided.
He said the commission had earlier translated and published its policy on the conduct of elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Voters’ Code of Conduct into braille in order to ensure greater awareness and effective participation of all citizens in the electoral process irrespective of disability.
Yakubu also said the smart card readers would be used for voter verification and authentication as a mandatory requirement.
He added that where it is deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit would be declared void in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines.
The commission’s boss pointed out that the most critical of the recent innovations introduced by the commission was the use of the z-pad which is a new innovation designed to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation using facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader.
While assuring on the commission’s neutrality in the election, the chief electoral umpire, said all categories of ad-hoc staff have been vetted and the integrity of the process would not be compromised as there would be no partisan infiltration.
He said, “As the eligible voters in Edo State go to the polls on Saturday, I wish to renew my appeal to all political parties, candidates and their supporters for peaceful conduct. Your votes will count. Polling unit level results will be uploaded for public view.
“However, this will not happen where the process is disrupted by violence or malpractices. The commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.
“The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results”.
Governor Obaseki in his brief remarks urged the electoral umpire to deploy the use of camera and drones to fly over problematic areas, noting that accreditation should be properly done.
Warning that some persons might be planning to smuggle in fake results, he charged INEC to ensure all results sheets are authenticated.
Ondo INEC Office inferno Caused By Power Surge – Police
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Police Command has said the fire incident at INEC’s head office in the state was caused by a ‘power surge’.
The INEC office in Akure, the state capital, was gutted by fire last week, destroying over 5000 Smarts Card Readers kept in containers and detailed to be used for the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Addressing journalists on the incident yesterday, the state commissioner of Police, Bolaji Salami, said police investigation revealed that the air conditioners attached to the two containers at the INEC office developed an electrical fault which caused the heavy inferno.
Salami added that the air conditioners were attached to the two containers in order to cool the machines before the election.
He said, “The investigation was carried out in connection with INEC and men of the fire service and the outcome showed it was caused by a power surge.
“In the end, we discovered that air conditioners attached to the two containers where the cards were kept caused the electrical fault. The conditioners were placed there for 24 hours to cool the cards and unfortunately it caught fire which razed the containers”.